It's so easy to make fun of the Department of Motor Vehicles in the United States. Whenever folks return from renewing a license or getting new plates, everybody has a joke making fun of the long lines, prolonged waits or bored employees. But it looks like we in the US have it easy compared to the Japanese. Journalist Jacob M. Schlesinger recently chronicled the bureaucratic hell involved for an American to get a driver's license there on The Wall Street Journal Japan Realtime blog.
The country's government basically tries to put as many obstacles as possible between prospective drivers and a permit. If you can withstand it all, you just might be patient enough to be behind the wheel. Schlesinger claims that he had to make seven trips around Tokyo over the course of two months and pay about $600 to get ready for the driving test. These trials included getting his US license translated and a half-day of testing.
Even getting through all of that, there's still the actual in-car test to pass. The police administer it, and an officer has final say before you even get in the car. According to the writer, a policeman kicked one woman out immediately because her shoes were considered inappropriate for driving.
As if it wasn't tough enough, the writer claims that he had the easy path because he already had an American license. Read the full story at Japan Realtime to find out if Schlesinger finally got his permit.